• Alexandra Jackson

Education in Isolation - Top Books to Pass the Time:

Updated: Apr 10

During this period of social isolation, parents are not only concerned about the potential disruption of their child's education, but also how to fill some of the long hours with them at home all day, with nowhere to go. And for those who were gearing up for major exams, with exam cancellations (read here for up to date information https://www.carfax-education.ae/post/uk-exams-what-we-know-so-far), suddenly the pressure is off and there maybe more time to enjoy reading a book rather than analysing every second word!

So Carfax Education asked their education team for guidance on getting your child to read and their top tips for books to enjoy at this time.

Fiona Mckenzie, our Head of Education explains why reading is so important not only as part of a child’s education but also for pure pleasure. “Reading is a great way to ensure your child remains intellectually stimulated and continues to learn, develop, and find new horizons and facts” She advocates reading with your children from a young age “ there are multiple benefits throughout different developmental stages in a child’s life. It gives children a vital opportunity to develop basic language skills, to improve comprehension, to learn writing skills and build a broad vocabulary. Research shows that early exposure to reading is directly correlated to academic success later in life.”

Fiona’s recommendations

9- 12 year olds

The Silver Sword – Ian Serailler

A novel based on a true story, as three children learn to survive and fend for themselves in occupied Poland as they journey to try and find their parents in Switzerland. A tale of resilience, bravery and courage in challenging times.

Teen Fiction

The Song of the Lioness – Tamora Pierce

An engaging mix of “swords and sorcery” young Allan masquerades as her twin brother Alan to train as a Knight. There is adventure and intrigue as she battles evil and fights for good.

Our Director of Studies, Clare, understands that for some children the idea of reading a book can be daunting. She recommends reading with your child, taking it in turns to read a page each to help them develop confidence and to encourage their love of reading. “Reading aloud to young children can be a precious adult-child bonding experience, and is a great way to start children learning. This can also model behaviour and lead to children reading aloud to younger siblings”.

Clare’s recommendations

3- 5 years

Green eggs and Ham- Dr Seuss:

Dr Seuss is a fun way to introduce children to reading and poetry. Green eggs and Ham sees Sam-I-Am pesters his friend Guy-Am-I to eat a plate of green eggs and ham. The repetition through out the story means even the youngest child can join in. It’s also a great book for trying out those reading voices!


8 + years

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone- JK Rowling:

The Harry Potter series is iconic and for many it is the book which sparked their reading passion! Harry’s life changes forever on his 11th birthday when he discovers he is a famous wizard. He is whisked off to Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. A story of friendship and growing up, facing challenges and creating magic. A wonderful way to escape during self-isolation with a series of seven books to get stuck into!


Young Teen

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou:

A 1969 autobiography describing the early years of American author and poet, Angelou. The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming of age story which illuminates how strength and determination can help overcome racism and trauma.

Alex, an English and Classic graduate, loves the way books create questions and come up with answers. “Reading develops a child's imagination, empathy for others as well as critical thinking skills. Through reading, children can go to places they have never been before and experience the world through the eyes of others, providing a better understanding of the world and the people in it”.

Alex’s Recommendations:

8 +

Diary of a Wimpy Kid- Jeff Kinney:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is written in the style of journal entries from the main character, Greg Heffley. Although suitable for all, many boys enjoy the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and find they grow up with Greg!


9-11 years

The Witches- Roald Dahl:

Roald Dahl is a top pick for this age group. The Witches tells the story of orphan Luke, left in the care of his Norwegian grandmother- a former witch hunter! Together they try to find the Grand High Witch and end the age-old tradition of kidnapping children by witches. Definitely not a bed-time read but a great adventure that gives a child a wonderful place to escape to.


11-13 years

Chinese Cinderella- Adeline Yen Mah:

A moving account of the author's childhood and upbringing in 1940's China. Yen Mah returns to her roots and tells the story of her painful childhood. Her courage will have you gasping and racing through the novel to see if she eventually triumphs in the face of despair.

Our English tutor Mohini knows how important books are for a continued development and passion for education. She recommends reading something exciting and adventurous during this tricky time, as it encourages you to escape for a little while!


Mohini's recommendations:

The Hobbit- J R R Tolkien:

The Hobbit is a masterpiece of literature. Set within Tolkien's universe, The Hobbit follows Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit with no desire to leave his home. Bilbo is offered an adventure by Gandalf the wizard, and his life is flipped upside down! Following Bilbo's episodic journey with his 12 dwarf companions, The Hobbit shows us more of Tolkien's incredible universe, personal growth of the characters, and heroism. This is a wonderful way to escape the current climate.

14-Young Adults

City of Bones- Cassandra Clare:

· The first in the Mortal Instruments series, Cassandra Clare sets up her world of Shadowhunter, monster destroying warriors in New York City. Clary is unexpectedly thrown into the Shadowhunter world when her mother is taken. Clary finds new allies and friends in the 'Institute' and will have to summon all her strength to begin her new life as a Shadowhunter. Dystopian Teen fiction has such a huge following and is a great genre to get interested in, as the novels available to you then are endless, and this series is a great way to introduce you to Urban Fantasy.

Top Tips:

1. It is important to remember that a love of reading should be encouraged; it should be seen as a fun, stress-free- relaxing activity, not a chore.

2. Sharing book recommendations with your children is also a precious bonding experience, even for older children, and can lead to discussions about favourite books, and more in-depth understanding of what they have been reading. In this time of isolation, it can be a wonderful time to introduce your child to your favourite books!

3. Surrounding your child with a selection of books and ensuring the books are not too challenging, will ensure they are not deterred. These can be stored in a cosy reading nook. Having a space for reading can be very encouraging and lead to an increased focus and enjoyment, get creative with your spaces!

If you would like more English mentoring, student guidance, or tuition, call us now on +971 4 438 5276, or email enquiries.uae@carfax-education.com.

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